this is not about politics…
… it’s about information design. Just let me say that up front.
The Center for Strategic and International Studies has released a report on recent anti-insurgent activity in Iraq. The report is provided in a slide show format, and I downloaded it after seeing a preview of the slides depicted below. I find them visually striking – the reduction in orange/red blooms across the map as time passes is hard to misread, given any context for what has happened in the last 9 months.
Which is why the rest of the report is such a shocking disappointment. Horribly overcrowded text, meaningless chart junk and worse all combine to muddy and obscure what could be vital information for policy makers and the general public. All of it is just too reminiscent of Tufte’s take on the Challenger disaster for my taste.
I’m not entirely certain why I’m posting this here – my parents always tried to get me to avoid talking politics in polite company. But I suppose I’m hoping its of interest to others, primarily those whose work relies on the clear communication of important information. This would be the latest in a long line of examples of what to avoid when you want people to walk away with a clear understanding of what you’re trying to tell them.